Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader  Micheál Martin. File photograph: Maxpix/Julien Behal

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have set a slow pace for the new parliament

Taoiseach Enda Kenny stands in Government Buildings with members of the new Cabinet. Photograph: Merrion Street

‘One wonders why the Government’s media handlers felt the need to engage in this “put the wimmin” up front manoeuvre’

‘Adams has enjoyed an unchallenged tenure at the top of the Sinn Féin of a duration once seen only in newly established African democracies.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Replacing him is a challenging prospect – but his recent gaffes have been a liability

Lynn Ruane, President of Trinity College Students Union with her daughters Jaelynne and Jordanne. “She will be one of the most interesting politicians in the new Oireachtas, irrespective of how long it lasts.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

The most dramatic shift in the line up of the 43 senators on the vocational panels was the Sinn Féin breakthrough

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. “In reality Fianna Fáil will have Enda Kenny’s new government by the proverbials in both the Dáil and the Seanad.” Photograph: Maxpix

The new government will not have working majority in the Seanad if Taoiseach true to the new politics

The former Dún Laoghaire TD Barry Andrews,  who now leads the team at the development aid charity Goal.

A realisation that all is not lost may help the newly elected to focus on the general political good

From left: Independent TDs Boxer Moran Seán Canney, Shane Ross and Micheal Fitzmaurice pictured at government buildings. The suggestion that some of the Independents could be part of a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil dominated government is creative.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Suggestion that some Independents could be part of FG-FF dominated government is creative

People gather for the Easter Rising centenary commemorations  in Smithfield, Dublin. File photograph: Maxwells/PA Wire

Events were dignified, inclusive and reflected the complexity of the Easter Rising

There has been much talk about how either a Fine Gael-only or a Fianna Fáil-only government could happen provided it was allowed rule by the other party. Photographs: The Irish Times

Unstable minority administration would serve only FG and FF and not the country

Maurice Manning: The Manning group’s report has since sat untouched on some shelf in Government Buildings. Setting it up was a cynical exercise in winding down the clock on reform.  Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Precedents do not augur well for real reform

“The issue of whether Enda Kenny’s continued leadership of Fine Gael assists or hinders the prospects of the two parties being in government is a relevant personnel question.” Photograph: Reuters

If negotiations are to succeed then Fine Gael can not rule out Mícheál Martin becoming Taoiseach first

Noel Whelan: The day the election was called was pregnant with damaging scenes and sounds for the Government campaign. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

It is now clear that Fine Gael’s campaign was fixed on a disastrous course

New Green Party TD  Catherine Martin, with party leader  Eamon Ryan, benefited heavily from transfers. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Anlaysis: Although first count results can be overturned, it is still a rare development

Political campaign posters on the  streets of Dublin. / AFP / LEON NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

The party as likely to perform as well in the next election coming out of government as they are from opposition

The Taoiseach and his Ministers claim a necessity to keep them in power to sustain that recovery but the voters know the reasons for Ireland’s rapid emergence from the economic crisis are more complex than claimed. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

FG have applied British Tory script without adapting appropriately to the Irish context

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin at the launch of the party’s advertisement campaign outside Leinster House. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

At this stage, regardless of how you look at it, outgoing government will fall about a dozen seats short of overall majority

John McHale: The role which the Fiscal Advisory Council has played is akin to that which the independent Referendum Commissions played in recent referendum campaigns.Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

McHale is telling the Government that if and when additional money comes along most of it will already be committed to new overhea(...)

Former Independent TD Jackie Healy Rae. File photograph: Peter Thursfield

Independents’ purposes and objectives are more complex than the crude caricatures

Investigative reporter from the ‘Boston Globe’ Spotlight Team Michael Rezendes and actor Mark Ruffalo attend the Boston premiere of ‘Spotlight’. Photograph: Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Open Road

Film tells story of investigation by ‘Boston Globe’ into cover up of clerical sexual abuse

Taoiseach  Enda Kenny. File photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

This election is not about choosing who can keep the recovery going because those choices are not made here in Ireland

The Dáil chamber: Photograph: Alan Betson

For almost five years Coalition failed to carry out pre-2011 promise of a “democratic revolution”

A woman cycles past a marriage equality mural in the Liberties area of Dublin, Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Same-sex marriage: referendum didn’t just amend Constitution - it changed lives

Heba Alsharbaty (Mother) , Khilood Jaddoa (Grandmother) of 10 Month Old Yousif Hussein and (Grand father) Fadhil Alsharbaty origionally from Baghdad in Iraq, now living in Rathfarnham during the first of three citizenship ceremonies held at the Convention Centre earlier this year. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Their life stories and their heritage will be part of the narrative of our country’s future

Being a councillor involves so much more than the formal role of contributing to discussions and decisions at council meetings and council sub-committees. It also involves making representations about council services or facilities for their area.

I grew up in a councillor’s home. Our house was the first port of call for many who needed help. Among the typical visitors I reca(...)

Alan Kelly, strongly and emotionally denied that he or any of his staff were responsible for the leak of Labour constituency polls.  Photograph: Aidan Crawley

The task of seeking to divine national political implications or constituency-by-constituency impact of any particular poll is a d(...)

After a month of negotiations a new Fianna Fail-Labour government was formed on January 12th, 1993, 48 days after the election. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Nothing concentrates the minds of politicians like the fear of a further election. Next year will be no different.

FineGael poster from the 2007 general election

The fudged, vague agreement with Labour was this week pushed off into the never never

Eamon Gilmore answering reporters’ questions at a special meeting of the Labour Party. Photograph: Frank Miller

Party will once again warn electorate about dangers of Fine Gael majority government

Same-sex marriage: the campaign knew that voters would warm to parents advocating equality for their own gay and lesbian children. Maureen Gowran appeared with her daughter Sandra Irwin-Gowran (right), of Yes Equality, and her partner, Marion Irwin-Gowran. Photograph: Paul Sharp/Sharppix

Weekend Read: Can you campaign without posters? Should well-known gay people be kept out of sight? What will persuade middle-aged (...)

Shock! Horror! .... Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, wore same suit two days in a row.   Above,   speaking during a citizenship ceremony at the Department. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

There will be a more pronounced female tone to the election debate next year than ever before

Enda Kenny: “The governor told me, it looks like this weekend . . . you’ll have to put the army around the banks and around the ATM machines, and introduce capital controls like they had in Cyprus.” Photograph: Andreas Manolis/Reuters

Comment part of strategy to remind voters of how serious crisis was and Fine Gael’s part in turning it around

 Mary Lou McDonald, Vice-president of Sinn Fein.  The party has long rejected notions that it is controlled from north of the border

Concerns about party being in government in Republic reinforced by report on paramilitary activity

Timing is everything. The impact of the budget will be felt in the New Year.  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

The measures will reassure voters the recession is over

Last winter, Leo Varadkar promised to solve the crisis in hospital emergency departments. Last Christmas, Alan Kelly huffed and puffed about how he was going to tackle homelessness.Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

Going early is an admission they failed to address homelessness or hospital overcrowding.

 Trying to spin it both ways

Government ratcheting up the sense that lots of goodies are on their way

Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of Britain’s  Labour Party takes part in his first Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons in Westminster, September 16th. Photograph: REUTER/Parliament TV

‘It is as if the Oxbridge university elites, who dominate much of Britain’s political media have determined that Labour is not en(...)

‘The Taoiseach made no comment on Fennelly’s criticism of the failure to record decisions in his statement responding to the report. The Tánaiste also had nothing to say on the point.’ Above, Mr Justice Nial Fennelly. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘Ministerial comments suggest that the record-keeping in government is all very hit-and-miss – and deliberately so’

‘All of the key decisions which led to the situation where Martin Callinan was put under this pressure to retire were made at meetings run by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.’  Photograph: DAVE MEEHAN

The Fennelly report found other witnesses more credible than the Taoiseach on key points

‘This week the government reaction to events in Northern Ireland was initially incoherent, with Frances Fitzgerald sounding more robust, and more political this week than she did last weekend, perhaps because of what Joan Burton and Micheál Martin had to say in between.’  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘We haven’t even begun to have a real election debate about the policy choices. Instead we just seem to be lapsing back into old-s(...)

“We don’t have to talk politics or get too serious,” she said. “I just want to know what’s on your mind”.  Above, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton. Photograph: Michael Appleton/The New York Times

‘You, Hillary, Dinner (Hot Damn!)’ – an email invitation in Texan from the Hillary Clinton presidential nomination campaign

‘The new Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, the Economic Management Council, and the Cabinet  redesigned the project in a way that stripped Irish Water of all its original justification.’  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘This is going to be one of the biggest issues in the general election campaign. Government party candidates on the frontline are (...)

‘After the election the parties simply ignored their pre election commitments. The current Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett (above) was chosen by the then Taoiseach elect Enda Kenny and approved by the Dáil without any vote.’  Photograph: Frank Miller /	THE IRISH TIMES

Dáil reform should start with secret ballot on election of Ceann Comhairle

Róisín Shortall, Catherine Murphy and Stephen Donnelly at yesterday’s launch of the Social Democrats. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Polls show new political party fatigue is already beginning to set in

 At the Fianna Fail manifesto  launch, 2007, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern   and Finance Minister Brian Cowen ...a pre-election auction of tax cuts and spending increases broke out which was even more intense than predicted. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Boom time tax cuts reflected broad consensus

  Taoiseach Enda Kenny – Pondering an election date .... Averaging out its performance in the 17 polls since mid December, Fine Gael is on 25 per cent, a small improvement on how it performed up to December. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Polls suggest Kenny would be better off waiting until spring for election

Photograph: Alan Betson

‘By parking most of their political staff in the Leinster House complex newspapers and broadcasters end up being Dublin-2 -centri(...)

‘The difficult task the consul general and his colleagues do in these days is done on behalf of all of us.’ Above, Philip Grant, consul general of Ireland to the Western United States (right) speaks to the media with Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates following a wreath-laying ceremony at the scene of the fourth-storey apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California this week. Photograph: REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

‘The Twitter feed is but one small element of the public effort in which the Consul General Philip Grant and his colleagues engage(...)

‘On Tuesday when the Taoiseach began to tell the Dáil that he has “been a supporter for a very long time of the idea that Dáil questions should be answered as fully and as completely as possible” the Opposition laughed in his face.’ Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

‘This country needs a dramatic culture shift towards real transparency’

‘Not content with systematically seeking to dis Deputy Catherine Murphy, Denis  O’Brien and his spokesperson have also felt it necessary to attack other politicians who sought to defend Murphy’s use of parliamentary privilege.’ Photograph: David Sleator/THE IRISH TIMES

Noel Whelan: ‘The first principles of public relations, it seems is that when your spokesperson becomes the story you’re losing’ (...)

‘I was emotionally overwhelmed by the acknowledgment of my small part in their campaign but I was also deeply distressed by the intensity of their gratitude.’ Above, crowds celebrate in the court yard at Dublin Castle, the Central Results Centre, at the results of the referendum on marriage equality. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

‘Even on the Yes side many of us had, however, failed to appreciate the true extent to which passing this referendum would matter (...)

 Brian Sheehan and Gráinne Healy from Yes Equality campaigning on Dublin’s Grafton Street with Vivian Sheehan from Windy Arbour. Photograph: Sharpix

How the most extensive and effective civic campaign ever seen in Irish politics was built

‘One can also only imagine how much it took for Prince Charles on Tuesday to shake the hand of the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who was such a significant figure in the leadership of the organisation which had killed his beloved Mountbatten.’ Photograph: Adam Gerrard/ WPA Pool/Getty Images

‘While some may breathlessly trumpet Gerry Adams’s magnanimity in shaking the prince’s hand, the real bravery for peace was on the(...)

‘Remember that those impacted by this referendum are real people whose real lives cannot be dismissed by false slogans. They are our brothers, sisters, daughters and sons, our family, our friends.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘They and their families have a real and very human need to be recognised as equal’

‘David Fitzgerald (above) is  proving to be a strong candidate. Many objective observers who have visited Carlow-Kilkenny in recent weeks speak of his positive disposition which is connecting with voters.’ Above,  Fitzgerald,   celebrates as it’s announced in Dublin  that Kilkenny City is winner of the SuperValu TidyTowns competition,  last year. He was there in his capacity as Chairman of the Kilkenny Town Tidy Towns Committee. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

‘Byelections always become effectively bi-polar events. The pro- and anti-government electors quickly rally behind the stronger-lo(...)

‘The marriage bar is one of the few remaining ways in which gay and lesbian couples are discriminated against  in our laws. Ending this discrimination matters to them. It matters to them more than we in the heterosexual community have ever realised.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘Constitution protects rights of married people, but not rights of people in civil partnerships’

‘We always expected that the No campaign would go negative and go nasty at some stage before May 22nd. This week, however, they erected posters that suggest they are prepared to go nasty early.’

'Many children are already being born with the assistance of surrogacy'

Senator Katherine Zappone and Senator Feargal Quinn at the press conference in 2012 to launch  the consultation process on the Seanad Reform Bill. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Taoiseach’s conversion is more Augustinian than Pauline

John Martin of The Land League speaking to members of the media, at the entrance to Gorse Hill, the home of the O’Donnell family, at the Vico Road , Dalkey. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Many of the repossession proceedings are at the judgment stage

Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil giving the presidential address at the end of the ard fheis in 2012. Political scientist Tim Bale addressed that ard fheis and suggested lessons the party could learn from the Tories. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

It’s too late for Fianna Fáil to recover before the next election

‘Fine Gael has had its national conference since the last Ipsos/MRBI poll and that gave them the opportunity to road-test some of their key lines for the next election.’ Above: the Fine Gael national conference earlier this year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

‘Fianna Fáil seems stuck where it was at the 2011 election at about 17 per cent’

‘Niall O’Dowd’s reminder and characterisation of Adams’s centrality to the peace process certainly served the interests of Sinn Féin, especially in the week that’s in it. There was no mention from the podiums in New York, or it seems the following day in Washington, of Adams’s recent troubles arising from how his party and the IRA responded to reports of child abuse.’ O’Dowd made his comments at the  Irish America Hall of Fame in New York, on Monday, at which former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke. Photograph:  EPA/ANDREW GOMBERT

Noel Whelan: Sinn Féin is forced to practise grown-up politics where tough decisions must be made scarce resources

‘Having carefully framed their terms of reference, the inquiry’s chairman Ciarán Lynch TD and his colleagues have settled down in their first module to a careful consideration of the context in which the banking and fiscal crisis arose.’  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Prof David Farrell set out criteria for assessing whether a parliamentary democracy is or can be effective

Simon Harris told the Fine Gael national conference: “We’ve fixed the Irish car, we’ve taken it out of the ditch, we’ve put it on the road, Now we’re ready for the next part of the journey. The last thing we can afford is to give the car back to the people who crashed it.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Fine Gael strategy is to warn of instability and step up attacks on Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin

‘Anyone listening to some of the media coverage and political rhetoric in the last week would be forgiven for thinking that the courts have been imprisoning people for protesting against water charges and water metering. This is simply not the case.’ Above, protesters march from Central Bank, Dublin, to Mountjoy Prison on February 21st,  over the imprisonment of  water charges demonstrators. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

‘When suggestions first arose that some water protesters were intimidating water-meter installers it was dismissed as establishmen(...)

‘The media coverage surrounding Pat Carey arose because he had expressed reservations about Fianna Fáil’s state of readiness for the forthcoming marriage equality campaign. By going public with his own story he has made a significant and timely intervention into that national debate.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

We need more passionate contributions, like those of Pat Carey and Seán Fleming

‘Incumbent centre-right governments across Europe know that facilitating a positive outcome for the new Greek government will not assist their own prospects of re-election.’ Above, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel welcomes Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ahead of a meeting in Brussels on February 12th. Photograph: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

‘The response of EU governments to new Greek government has as much to do with politics as economics’

One of the changes most often sought by those campaigning for political reform is for all future ceann comhairles to be elected by a secret ballot of TDs.  Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

This Government should change Dáil rules as part of political reform plan

‘These protests directed at the President also show a complete lack of understanding of the powers and function of his office. The only role which the President has in considering legislation is to assess, with the advice of the Council of State if he wishes, whether the Bill is constitutional.’ Photograph:  Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘Play ball, rather than the man’ rule would be a good starting point for greater civility

‘The Irish have come a long way in a short time in our attitude towards homosexuality. The scale of this shift in attitude was reflected in the warmth of the response to Varadkar’s interview.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

‘People ask whether Varadkar will lead Fine Gael and I offer the view that he probably will’

In the 2011 Dáil election 328 candidates qualified for reimbursement of election expenses, including the 166 TDs elected. Photograph: Alan Betson

Political scientists estimate sitting TDs and Senators enjoyed significant electoral advantage even before State funding

‘In their ruling they effectively described the decision to keep the woman alive for the previous two weeks as “a futile exercise which commenced only because of fears held by treating medical specialists of potential legal consequences.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘All the medical evidence available to the High Court at its special hearing on Christmas Eve could or should have been available (...)

‘At or near the top of government there have been some dramatic changes in personnel. We have a different Tánaiste   and a different leader of the Labour Party from this time last year.’    Above, Joan Burton. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘We may look back at 2014 as the year when, after initial tensions, Ireland shifted gently from civil war politics to a more typic(...)

‘The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll  suggests that the momentum is with the Yes side, this 80 per cent compares to 76 per cent Yes in polls by the same agency last October and 64 per cent Yes in polls by this agency in 2012. If proponents of this constitutional change want to win, however, they should ignore this and all previous polls on the issue.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘Most of those who will vote will only engage at or near the end of the campaign’

‘Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael also know, however, that their vote could shrink below a point where even together they couldn’t form a government. Any doubt Fine Gael may have had about that will have been displaced by yesterday’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.’

Irish Times poll confirms Fine Gael’s best chance of staying in government after the next election is with Fianna Fáil

Fiona O’Malley with party president Michael McDowell, Bobby Molloy, PD leader Mary Harney and former leader Des O’Malley blow out the candles on the cake to mark the party’s 20 years in political life at their party HQ  in Dublin. Photograph: David Sleator

‘It would take a lot of political charisma and an impressive set of policies, not to mention lots of funding’

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly at Government Buildings Dublin, earlier this week. Photograph:  Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Opinion: ‘Even if Alan Kelly’s package does defuse the controversy about water it will not and cannot assuage the wider mood of a(...)

Brian Farrell chairing the 1982 televised debate on RTÉ between the then taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald (right) and the opposition leader Charles Haughey. Photograph: Paddy Whelan / THE IRISH TIMES

Opinion: ‘He had a deep sense of the democratic authority held by the people and assumed the role of being their voice in studio’ (...)

“It is interesting that the Fine Gael backbencher Eoghan Murphy (above) in his article on political reform here on Wednesday included an express call for the disbandment of the EMC and suggested its operation might be unconstitutional. He has a point.” Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Opinion: ‘The EMC has enhanced the role of unelected officials and advisers at the expense of those elected to govern’

‘The fact that the Government no longer has a majority in the Seanad raises the possibility that Senator Feargal Quinn’s legislation will get some traction.’ Photograph: Alan Betson, Irish Times

Opinion: Senator Feargal Quinn aims to reverse Irish Water’s new power

‘Fergus O’Dowd  said Irish Water would establish “local contact points”, would make an annual report to the Oireachtas . . . He has been demoted and has recently emerged as one of Irish Water’s most trenchant critics.’  Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Opinion: Deputies warned Government of ‘deeply flawed’ water Bill

‘Micheál Martin  (above) would be gone as leader if there were any obvious successor who could guarantee improving fortunes. There is no such person in the current parliamentary party.’  Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Opinion: ‘In the newly arrived era of recovery politics Fianna Fáil is finding it difficult to decide which way to turn’

 ‘Ireland managed to exit the Troika bailout relatively early because government fiscal policy was operating to a strict four-year economic plan. Now 10 months later the Government is about to launch its first post bailout budget without any detailed overall economic road map.’ Above, Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform with Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance at the announcement of the bailout exit. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Opinion: ‘The Government is about to launch its first post bailout budget without any detailed overall economic road map’

‘Enda Kenny’s newly apologetic stance is convoluted. He sounds like a penitent rattling off the “Bless me father for I have sinned . . .” mantra but then refusing to say what sins he seeks absolution for while simultaneously blaming some lads he was with for leading him astray.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Opinion: Taoiseach’s avoidance of media debate on McNulty affair is part of a pattern

‘On his own motion or having being persuaded by some apparatchik, Enda Kenny ignored the all-female shortlist and instead decided to bestow the Seanad seat on John McNulty.’

Opinion: ‘This walks, talks and looks like a stroke. It was stroke. Fine Gael should have the decency to stop digging’

 North’s First Minister Peter Robinson insists Stormont institutions are not fit for purpose.   Photograph:  Arthur Allison.

O’Loan warns of peace processes unravelling

‘We can expect more public clashes between Leo Varadkar (aove) and the Taoiseach and indeed between Varadkar and other Cabinet colleagues in the weeks and months ahead as tensions rumble about his straight-talking, they would say self-serving, style.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Opinion: Is it any wonder Leo Varadkar spoke out on health spending and the budget?

“It’s showtime,” were PJ Mara’s opening words at the launch of the 2002 general election campaign. It was a signature moment in an era of boom-time auction politics.  Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Opinion: Ministers’ signals of tax cuts have fuelled voter expectations

Demonstrators at a pro choice protest in Dublin earlier this month.  Photograph: Aidan Crawley

‘The ground has shifted in the last 12 years but not in the direction the pro-life side would like or to the extent the pro-choice(...)

‘To borrow a phrase popular in the Reynolds camp at the time, when Dick Spring wasn’t himself taking offence he had Fergus Finlay to take offence on his behalf.’   Photograph: Paul Goulding

Opinion: Former taoiseach not alone in collapsing coalition relationship

‘Enda Kenny should be able to defuse this controversy by giving full and frank answers to parliamentary and media questions. Until and unless he can do so, the Callinan controversy will continue to be a political time bomb under the Taoiseach’s credibility.’ Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Opinion: If Shatter’s proceedings come to trial they could prove the most politically dramatic court hearings since 1970

 Leo Varadkar:  refreshing directness. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Apart from frankness, Varadkar has other assets. He is young, competent and telegenic

Opinion: Seeds may have been sown for a breakdown in relationship with TDs

Labour leader Joan Burton, with her deputy, the new Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly: tackling the housing issue is a pressing political imperative. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Opinion: Unemployment and the lack of affordable accommodation are fuelling political instability

‘Attention is focused on the fortunes of James Reilly with a general consensus emerging that he will cease to be Minister for Health next week. Reilly is an issue politician and health, in particular universal health insurance, is his issue.’ Above, Reilly  at the launch of the White Paper on Universal Health Insurance earlier this year. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Opinion: Giving the European Commissionership to Hogan in line with expectations gives Kenny more space to rebrand his Government(...)

‘Brian Crowley MEP always resented efforts by Mount Street apparatchiks and senior party figures to manage the vote between candidates in the European elections.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Opinion: Fianna Fáil MEP is most successful Irish election candidate ever

‘On the week in which Jeremy Paxman retires from his role presenting the BBC flagship Newsnight programme it is worth reflecting on whether that aggressive style of political interviewing actually serves the viewer and the process of democratic debate.’  Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

Opinion: Conflict makes for more dramatic television than the calm exchange of ideas

‘The first election of the recession was the 2009 local elections in which Sinn Féin got almost exactly the same vote as it got in 2004 and Mary Lou McDonald lost her European Parliament seat.’ Above, McDonald canvassing for the 2009 elections with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Opinion: Party did not get immediate electoral bounce out of the economic downturn

‘In the next few months Enda Kenny has to develop a new relationship with a new Labour leadership and seek to calm Labour nerves.’ Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

Opinion: Kenny’s Coalition management skills now look ropey

Opinion: Many of the Independent councillors were endorsed by their local Independent TD

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